London toursist take note … but don’t pay with them

At least not on the London buses. Because they don’t accept cash anymore, neither do they carry cash so even if they wanted to, they can’t give you any change back.

A modern London bus

A modern London bus

Transport for London (TfL) who run the buses, say that there won’t be a problem, surely not a big one, for the London people and tourists. Numbers show that most of them already use Oyster (Visitor Oyster for tourists), prepaid tickets, contactless payment cards or concessionary tickets. Only a small amount of people still pay using cash. That would be 1%, the other 99% use the previously mentioned payment methods.

For people who have an Oyster card but ran out of money on it, this is good news. Because as they can’t pay with cash, they are allowed to take a free ride. Just the one though 😉

A tourist version of the Oyster card, the "Oyster Visitor card"

A tourist version of the Oyster card, the “Oyster Visitor card”

The way people pay for things is evolving, more and more people are paying using cards or other wireless methods (paying with phone) and carrying less cash around. Transport for London believes that by eliminating the cash part it can deliver a smoother and more efficient service to the passengers but also that they can save £24 million per year. That money can be reinvested in the transport network.

So if you get to London and want to take the bus, remember to get some form of prepaid payment method as paying in cash is no longer an option!

England, why are your phone booths red?

Travel doesn’t always have to be to the other side of the world. There are things to discover in places nearby as well.

England, for example. Sorry you lost the game guys!

One thing to see? The typical red phone booth. To be correct, one shouldn’t say booth or box, but kiosk. The kiosk actually has a pretty long history. The red one started out it’s life rather soon as “Kiosk No. 2”, or K2 for short, in 1924 and was the result of a deisgn competition. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was the winning designer suggested the colour to be silver with a green/blue interior. But as the owner of the kiosks was the Post Office, they painted them red, like their mail boxes. The K1 before that came to life in 1920 as a concrete construction and had no such designated colour.

In reality today there aren’t that many left. It’s estimated that there are about 11.000 of them left. And even less working ones. This is simply due to the fact that today just about everyone has a phone in their pocket. And the costs to keep them operational, clean and to fix them up after acts of vandalism are just too high. That’s why if you spot one, you’ll probably find yourself in a tourist area.

Not all of them were red from the start by the way. There were many areas where the red colour didn’t seem to work for people, so they had them painted in other colour schemes. Most of those have been repainted to the original and iconic red, as that is the colour that seemed to have grown on the people throughout the years. Which British Telecom found out the hard way.

In 1981 British Telecom (which was the new name for the Post Office Telephones) announced that they would paint all the red kiosks in their company brand colour: yellow. This did not go down well with the people at all. campaigns were launched (by the Daily Mail among others), questions were asked in parliament and even the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was asked to weigh in on the matter. Eventually, British Telecom abandoned the plan after having painted just 70 kiosks in different colours as an experiment.

A K2 phone kiosk in the Westminster area

A K2 phone kiosk on Grosvenor road in the Westminster area

K2's older brother, the K1 was constructed out of concrete

K2’s older brother, the K1 was constructed out of concrete

This is what the modern phone booth looks like. Much less charming isn't it?

This is what the modern phone booth looks like. Much less charming isn’t it?